Mike McCurry is a former White House press secretary under Bill Clinton and currently is a professor and director at the Center for Public Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., so he knows his way around national politics. He recently wrote an interesting piece for Politico in which he posits that we should perhaps starve the beast currently occupying the White House by denying him the one thing all narcissists thrive on: Attention.
I found the article interesting because I came to a similar conclusion early on in Trump’s presidency: What if no media paid any attention to, or came to the party (more like a drunken orgy) that he’s been hosting on Pennsylvania Avenue? What if he and Sarah Huckabee Sanders were simply ignored since all they’re going to do is lie anyway?
McCurry wrote, “… fight fire with water. How about changing the rules of engagement, especially in reporting by White House reporters? How about this alternative: Let’s declare a month of “Trump-free” journalism. No live coverage of meaningless photo opportunities. No endless repeats of silly tweets. How about no one shows up for Sarah Sanders’ White House press briefings given that they are largely useless anyhow? How about no mention of Trump on shows like “Morning Joe” for at least a week?” My question is, why for just a week?
McCurry continues, “Deny Trump the oxygen he most wants and needs. Daily coverage. Take him off the air … no ‘Trump’ in any headline.” It would drive him nuts but would perhaps save our collective sanity.
He concludes by stating, “I’m as eager to scoop up every morsel of palace intrigue from inside this “crazytown” White House as everyone else. But there is a better way for the press to win this war. The rules of engagement need to change.”
I shared the article with CoolCleveland publisher, Thomas Mulready, and he had some very interesting, and accurate observations: “Of course, this is the path I’ve been suggesting. Don’t quote him. Don’t use his name. Ignore him, like a petulant child. But the media loves Trump more than anyone in history. He is saving their bacon. Click-thrus are up, ad revenues are bolstered, and people are reading mainstream media again. Journalism literally can’t afford to stop covering the circus … unless and until they invent a new business model.”
Mulready is right … the media, which I am part of so I’m also partly to blame, is guilty of pandering to the prurient interests of the electorate under the guise of being public watchdogs. But the truth is, Trump is a revenue stream and no media outlet is going to be the first one to quit sucking on the revenue tit.
But we know this guy; he’s like that crazy girlfriend we once had: stone-cold nuts, totally ziggity-boo … yet we respond to his antics as if he’s sane. It’s like arguing with a lamppost: you’re not going to get anywhere, and certainly are not going to get anything that even approximates the truth because he and Sarah change the story from day to day, and sometimes even from minute to minute.
It’s like being involved in a slow-motion, ongoing train wreck of a bad dream that keeps replaying itself over and over in our heads … and we can’t (or are refusing) to wake up. He’s a media made Frankenstein monster, a villain that we spend far too much time watching but are fearful that if we take our eyes off of him for a minute he’ll destroy the Republic or turn it into a kleptocracy.
Sure, we’ve elected some bonehead presidents in the past, but this is a real fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into this time. It’s like having sex with an orange-haired gorilla; you can’t stop until the gorilla is ready to stop.